8/11 and 12, 2010
Badger: 4th, Veteran Males 7-9
Judge: David Hyde. Photo by Garth Gourlay.
In a way, Val and I needed to go to Fredericton to prove to ourselves that not all car trips turn into plots for horror movies. Our trip to Minnesota was so Edvard-Munch-The-Scream horrible that we still have PTSD flashbacks from it, and I never did finish my blog post about it from last year. (I might still do that someday, but it would probably end up within the chronology of this blog and pass, unnoticed, into the Collection of Things Best Not Mentioned. Either that, or someone like Rob Zombie will pick up the option for it and turn it into this generation’s version of The Exorcist Meets Sybil. Yes, it was that horrible. Worse, even.) Anyway, we were overdue for one of our own road trips -- so off to the Maritimes we went. We baked in the heat, we got wet in the rain, and we encountered giant spuds on the roadside... but we did have a pretty good time.
When Dinah picked up her last point in Fredericton, I said, “Pack your bags – we’re heading to Belleville!” We’d entered the National two days before, simply because entries closed before we could make it to the Maritimes. If we hadn’t had such a nice trip to Fredericton and back, we might not have gone at all. The very idea of long car rides still makes us both cringe.
So there we were: the two of us plus Kathy with Dinah, Fiona, and Badger -- all packed into a rented Ford Econoline van, eager to prove to ourselves that not all trips have to be Trips From H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. The construction on the way there, plus the traffic through Montreal, made the drive up a Trip From Heck, but we survived. If not for the fact that most of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec appeared to be under construction, we might have made the trip in 9 hours instead of 10 1/2.
The Ramada in Belleville was lovely, with a nice big flat area perfect for showing -- and right by the water for scenic show pictures. We arrived late enough in the week so that we missed having time to explore the hiking trails, but that was unavoidable. Next time, for sure!
Here's a view from Val's and my 4th-floor balcony:
Badger and Fiona, the class dogs, showed on Wednesday, with the boys showing first. Badger was first up on the table:
He's essentially retired from showing, but he still loves to show off occasionally. I brought him along mostly so Kathy would have enough dogs to show, but he cleaned up nicely and looked great in the ring.
Badger ended up taking 4th place in Veteran Males 7-9, which was a pleasant surprise. There were 6 dogs entered and 5 showed up, so he wasn't last in the class. Not bad for a retired guy. He still gets his spot in BCCC history now.
All the weather forecasts the previous week had promised us lovely, 60-degree days and 40-degree nights with a chance of rain on Friday and maybe Thursday. None of us -- especially the hairy members of the entourage -- are huge fans of very hot weather, but Kathy probably dislikes it the worst of all of us. She's the one who has to dress up and run around in the bright sunshine -- while wearing a suit and pantyhose. Can't blame her there. Anyway, the weather forecast lied. By the time we made it to Ontario, it was just plain baking hot. We ended up having to soak chamois cloths to put over each dog before showtime. Luckily, we had electricity available so we could plug in our big fan, and we ran the batteries in the crate fans until they begged for mercy. Dinah relaxed on her waterbed, but Badger just didn't care for his. He stood it for the car rides, but asked to be placed in a crate without the bed -- and then dug up the fleece bed so he slept just on the plastic pan on the bottom. Silly old bluey.
Next, it was Fiona's turn to shine in the baking hot sun.
The Open Bitch class was massively competitive, and Fee acquitted herself very well. There wasn't a bad-looking girlie in the lot. I'd moved Dinah up since she finished in Fredericton; otherwise she'd have been in this class, too.
The judge had pulled out his first picks in the ring in Open Bitch, and then he looked back and looked Fiona over again. He pulled her out to join his other picks, then moved her up to third place. For a moment, we thought he would move her up more, but he seemed content with his choices as they were. Third place at a National is still nothing to sneeze at, and it gave people a good look at Fee.
Thus encouraged, we celebrated with a room-service picnic and high hopes for Best of Breed. If David had liked the B-Man, then he would love Dinah, right? Dinah had been Best Puppy at that specialty in 2006 and Winners Bitch in 2008. With a winning streak like that, she should come home with something very nice from out of the Specials class, right? Even if she didn't take Best of Breed or Best Opposite, even an Award of Merit would have been cause for a victory banquet at Big Daddy's BBQ, home of the all-you-can-eat lobster dinner.
Of course, the big game that everyone plays at dog shows is, "What does the judge like?". Some like good movers. Some like nice heads. Some don't show any pattern to their choices. Everyone scrutinizes the judge's picks and tries to determine the pattern (if any).
It rained in the early morning hours before the show, which to us was an encouraging sign. Dinah loves to show in wet weather; as Kathy says, "She's a mudder." It remained cloudy at showtime, which was a vast relief to everybody sporting sunburns from the previous days of showing.
There were so many entries in Best of Breed that the judge brought everyone in, then allowed the bitches to leave the ring so he could judge all the dog entries first. He would make his cuts, then dismiss the dogs and do the same for the bitches.
By the time dog judging was complete, the atmosphere had started heating up again. I was disappointed that Dinah wouldn't get to show in the rain. Sure, she gets horribly messy, but she plows through the muck and water with such joy that you'd think she actually loved to show. She doesn't really -- she likes it okay, but she doesn't love it. Still, add water and she's a happy camper.
Finally, the bitches were called in. Because Dinah had moved up from Open just the day before, she was placed last in line. She had plenty of time to get bored and fidgety back there, and she made Kathy work to keep her focused. All the same, she looked lovely.
She moved nicely, when it finally came her turn.
We were surprised and disappointed when she didn't even make the cut, but she simply wasn't David's cup of tea -- nor did she feel particularly motivated to make him change his mind about that. David appeared to prefer bigger, longer dogs. Dinah is long enough, but he liked them really long. Badger and Fiona are both longer than The Lovely One. She's also a little girl, and he didn't put up any little Beardies in any of the classes. Anyway, we sadly left the ring and started packing up. Dinah's winning streak at the National was no more. No AOM. No all-you-can-eat lobster.
The top honors eventually went to two deserving dogs: Arwen (whom Dinah has beaten every other time they've been in the same ring) took Best of Breed, and Darcy (Diva's littermate and a very nice boy) took Best of Opposite. All of the specials were nice -- not a bad one anywhere, or an undeserving one -- but it was still a bummer about Dinah's winning streak. Not even Kathy's lucky suit and my lucky earrings helped. (I'm not really a believer in lucky charms, but I do believe in how you act and feel when you have them. It does make a difference when you feel lucky.)
Our trip home took us over the same bridges that we crossed to head home from Gananoque, and we took a shortcut through the farm country in upstate New York that was charming, but not exactly short in terms of time. At least we weren't stuck in miles of orange barrels with kamikaze traffic trying to run us off the road. It took us a good 11 hours to get back, but we made it safely (if a bit punchy toward the end -- we giggled from central MA all the way back to Maine), unpacked in as orderly a fashion as we could manage, and got lucky Kathy on the road for home so she could attend a wedding the next day. She survived it, and we all survived the road trip. Even if we didn't bring home any really big honors, simply surviving the trip without it devolving into insanity was almost enough of a reward. Maybe we can travel again without flashbacks after all.